This is the triumph of bean-counting over common sense. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been given his budget number by the White House and the president’s Democratic allies in Congress are doing everything possible to adhere to the White House’s edicts, regardless of the ramifications for national security.
Of course, no such fiscal discipline is applied to domestic programs.
Well before recent events, Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt of AEI explained in a Wall Street Journal article:
The proposed cuts in space and missile defense programs reflect a retreat in emerging environments that are increasingly critical in modern warfare. The termination of the Airborne Laser and Transformational Satellite programs is especially discouraging.
The Airborne Laser is the most promising form of defense against ballistic missiles in the “boost phase,” the moments immediately after launch when the missiles are most vulnerable. This project was also the military’s first operational foray into directed energy, which will be as revolutionary in the future as “stealth” technology has been in recent decades. The Transformational Satellite program employs laser technology for communications purposes, providing not only enhanced bandwidth — essential to fulfill the value of all kinds of information networks — but increased security.
Their analysis is all the more persuasive as we now witness an outbreak of bellicosity from the North Koreans and a potential uprising against the theocratic regime in Iran. Nevertheless, the White House and its Congressional allies remain unmoved and refused on Tuesday to restore funding for the missile defense programs which have fallen under the budget-cutting knife.
A Capitol Hill advisor closely following events on the Senate side is slack-jawed, telling PJ Media:
At a moment when North Korea is launching missiles with the regularity of the Washington Nationals losing ballgames, it is patently absurd, reckless, and irresponsible to cut funding for missile defense. This is a moment to significantly bolster the program to protect America and send a message to the thugs in Pyongyang that we are doing more than merely passing ineffectual resolutions at the UN.
As these observers point out, it is simply not rational, given the threats we face, to undertake unilateral reductions in programs which could lead to important improvements in national defense — or at the very least complicate the planning of rogue states. And given the fact the president prefers not to undertake direct military action except as a last resort (an entirely reasonable position) it is baffling that we are rejecting other means to deter the threats which day by day seem to multiply.
Let’s be honest: $1.2B is a drop in the bucket for this administration — 0.15 percent of the waste-ridden and ill-conceived $787B stimulus bill. If we have $787B to throw down the proverbial rat hole, we certainly can find $1.2B to help protect ourselves and our allies against a North Korean or Iranian missile attack. If not, then it is fair to conclude there is something seriously wrong — or rather something terribly unserious — with the priorities of the Congress and the administration.